CAREER OF MOHAMED AT MECCA 9
suffered a loss of prestige and influence which accrued to
the Omayyad section instead, and remained with it until
the conquest of Mecca by the Prophet.
Abu Talib, the uncle to whom the orphan had been
entrusted, treated him with the utmost affection, a fact
which seems to indicate that the boy possessed attractive
qualities. When only twelve years old he was taken by
his guardian on a caravan journey to Syria, which must
have enlarged the horizon of his experience.
At the annual fair held at Ocatz, to the east of Mecca,
his young mind was doubtless influenced by listening
to the contests in poetry among bards of the various
tribes. There he would also hear Jewish and Christian
preachers. About this period, during the time of the
fair, a blood feud arose through the murder of a chief
of the Hawazin by a rival, who had a confederate
among the Kureish. This occasioned several desperate
skirmishes, at one of which the Prophet was present;
but he did not distinguish himself. Indeed, at no time
in his career did he display martial qualities.
Apart from these skirmishes, dignified by the name
of the Sacrilegious War, the Prophet spent his youth
as a shepherd, a mean occupation which usually fell to
the lot of slaves. In after years he said, cc Verily there
hath been no prophet raised up, who performed not
the work of a shepherd." He must have been held in
esteem at Mecca, since it is recorded that he was termed
Al-Amin or « The Faithful"
But for the poverty of Abu Talib, it is possible that
Mohamed would have continued to lead a shepherd's
life, which suited his reserved and meditative nature.
But at the age of twenty-five necessity drove him to
Syria in part charge of a caravan belonging to Khadija,
a wealthy widow of the Kureish* At Bostra he bartered
his goods successfully, and upon his return Khadija fell
in love with the handsome youth, and married him after
obtaining her father's consent by a ruse. The marriage
was happy and Mourned lived contentedly with Khadija,
although his two sons both died. It appears that, while
continuing to manage her own affairs as before, she